I know we’re late to the party, but we had our first screening of Frozen this weekend at Chew Chainz HQ. I was skeptical, but it lived up to the hype. Certainly, it’s the top Disney animated flick to come down the pike in a while, but how does it stack up historically? In the spirit of March Madness, we’re launching a NCAA-style, field of 64, single-elimination bracket challenge to identify the best kid’s movies… ever.
The Chew Chainz committee has broken the field down into four divisions: 1) The Disney Old School Division, spanning all years up to 1995; 2) The Disney New School Division, representing the last two decades; 3) The Non-Disney Animated Division; and, 4) The Non-Animated Division. Bracketologists beware, this field of 64 and the associated seedings were determined unilaterally and subjectively by the Chew Chainz committee (of one).
Who do you have in the Elite 8, the Final 4, or going all the way? Share your feedback on the bracket and your Cinderella picks with us all month. And, stay tuned for a live survey link to enter your picks! Now, without further ado… here’s our breakdown of the action.
Disney Old School Division
This division is stacked, top-to-bottom. Seeding is almost irrelevant, as more than half of the movies in the division could feasibly go all the way. The first shocker is #16 The Brave Little Toaster getting into the field of 64 at the expense of classics like The Aristocats and Fantasia, and then blowing the tourney wide open with an upset of #1 seed Snow White. Stunning. #12 101 Dalmatians takes out #5 The Jungle Book, paving the way for #4 Lion King to make an easy run to the Elite 8. The bottom half of the division is tougher, where three classics from, arguably, Disney’s most dominant stretch of movie-making, from ‘89-’94: The Little Mermaid, Alladin and Beauty & The Beast jockey for the right to face a fourth hit from that era: The Lion King. The Little Mermaid makes it through, but she should have stayed under the sea, because Samba is singing Hakuna Matata on his way to a birth in the Final 4.
Disney New School Division
The Disney new school division is also top-heavy, but not as deep. It includes the more recent Disney films and the whole Pixar portfolio, both pre- and post-Disney acquisition. Among this group, we see the chalk hold in the early rounds. Frozen, after a record-breaking run at the Box Office, earns the #1 seed and really doesn’t face much competition until a stiff test from Toy Story 2 in the round of 16, but Anna and Elsa work their magic yet again . In the bottom of the bracket, things don’t get interesting until two Pixar heavyweights: #2 Toy Story (the original) and #3 Finding Nemo meet in the Sweet Sixteen. Toy Story narrowly edges Nemo, earning bragging rights in the Pixar family and setting up an epic showdown with Disney's Frozen in the Elite 8. This time, Woody and Buzz get their revenge on the two Princesses of Arendelle, as Anna and Elsa go ice cold on the grand stage and, in a mild upset, send Toy Story through to the Final 4.
Non-Disney Animated Division
The Non-Disney Animated Division is interesting. Some might quibble with the inclusion of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam here, but they’re cartoony enough to qualify. Shrek is the favorite, and starts out strong. Here, we see another 5/12 upset as a massive Box Office return isn’t enough to save The LEGO Movie from the never-say-die dinos of The Land Before Time. Our first real Cinderella starts to emerge from the bottom half of the division, as #7 All Dogs Go to Heaven takes out #2 Roger Rabbit and #3 An American Tail to set up an Elite 8 showdown with the top-seeded Shrek. Once again, heart wins out in this group, and All Dogs Go to Heaven completes a shocking run to the Final 4.
Here is another group where the committee had to make some tough calls about who to include in the field. The definition of “kid’s movie” is loose, so some absolutely loaded franchises, like Harry Potter, were excluded, while others, like The Karate Kid, made the cut. E.T. earns a #1 seed and takes care of business early. The 8/9 matchup between The Princess Bride and Homeward Bound means at least one dangerous film will bow out early. True to March Madness form, the 5/12 matchup produces another upset, as Hook knocks off Daniel-San… bang-a-rang! In the lower portion of the bracket, Willy Wonka (the original version, of course), is just way too strong for the rest of that field. #4 Goonies manages to take out #1 E.T. but can’t hang with Wonka, who cashes a Golden Ticket to the Final 4.
The Final 4 pits Disney Old School versus Disney New School, though ironically, the two contenders were released just one year apart. The Lion King, perhaps bruised from such a grueling run through the division, just can not slow down the Woody-Buzz combo-play and falls to the Pixar hit. In the other semi-final, Wonka simply outclasses All Dogs Go to Heaven, setting up a Toy Story-Willy Wonka final. It’s Gene Wilder’s dry humor against the computer-animated slapstick of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Despite a deep bench of high-flying Oompa-Loompa’s, Willy Wonka ends up like Mike TV and Veruca Salt before him, casually dispatched just short of the ultimate goal. Toy Story is crowned the champion of Chew Chainz’ ultimate kid’s movie bracket. Now, let the Madness begin!